Updated: Oct 11, 2018
This year’s Fourth of July marked the Great Flag Caper’s 25th anniversary year, made up of a handful of flag planting events throughout the holiday week, focused on decorating Irving neighborhoods with American flags.
“We’ve really increased the sense of neighborhood in this town,” said Nell Anne Hunt, Great Flag Caper founder. “I call Irving now ‘The Hometown of Patriotism.’ This project is known all over the country and as people in Irving get job transfers, or move for one reason or another to other parts of the country, they’ve taken the idea and started it there.
“As Americans, we’re so thankful for all of our opportunities, and we also feel it incumbent upon us to leave this world, and this country, in a better place, so we accent the positive. It’s just a grand, wonderful thing, because we realize that under the flag, we are all equal. Every family is as important as every other family, every child is our child in America.”
Upon turning a quarter of a century old, the Great Flag Caper participating families and friends gathered to make it one of their best efforts yet by planting some 40,000 American flags alongside Irving’s renowned MacArthur Boulevard, in addition to flags already being planted beside other streets throughout the city.
“Many of the volunteers say it’s an opportunity to meet their neighbors, and they found them to be such nice people they’re organizing barbecues and get-togethers. I think that’s because it’s open to everyone,” Hunt said. “We have senior citizens, we have 30-something people who are joggers, who put flags in their backpacks, and then we have families, that have stay-cations, and this is what they do. I’ve even had grandparents say they take their grandchildren along and explain to them, as they go, what the country has meant to them in their lifetime.”
Considering the large-scale success the Great Flag Caper has become, the groups’ modest beginnings may come as a shock.
“I started it myself with a couple of hundred flags in the neighborhood,” Hunt said. “Everybody liked them so much, the next year I got 400 flags, instead of 200, and spread out a little bit more. Then, the neighborhood came to me and said, ‘Oh, it looks so great near your house, let’s do the whole neighborhood, and we’ll help you.’
“Then, the city started looking, and the city said, ‘Oh, we want to do it too.’ It’s now a 501c3, and we have a wonderful board. It makes you realize how many wonderful people there are in this country.”
“I think blending is what it does,” Susanne Eldridge said. “It brings all of the communities together, whether you’re Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or non-denominational. It’s something that gives you pride to be an American.”